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View from the East
Thursday, August 25, 2011

By Al Myatt

Ruff's workouts lead to clothes shopping

Ruffin McNeill
(File Photo by Al Myatt)
Players Responding to Camp Connors, Part II

The Tenth Anniversary Edition of Bonesville The Magazine has rolled off the presses. Among the wide- ranging features in its 100 pages is a revealing report by Bonesville columnist Al Myatt on the immediate impact East Carolina strength and conditioning guru Jeff Connors is having on the team since his return to the program.  Both the traditional print and online Flash versions of Bonesville The Magazine may be ordered through links elsewhere on this page.



Ruff's workouts lead to clothes shopping
One-on-One Interview with Damon Magazu
One-on-One Interview with Michael Barbour
One-on-One Interview with Derek Blacknall
One-on-One Interview with Grant Harner
Pirates get a jump on game week routine
One-on-One Interview with Justin Jones
One-on-One Interview with Torrance Hunt
Burning questions as season approaches
One-on-One Interview with Andrew Bodenheimer
One-on-One Interview with Michael Brooks
One-on-One Interview with Lance Lewis
One-on-One Interview with Justin Dixon
Ruff weighs in on recruiting discussion
Pirates' chief salesman makes ultimate pitch

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

It's been seven months since East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill had gastric bypass surgery. That was over 130 pounds ago. McNeill continues to follow doctor's orders regarding diet and exercise. Walking time is built into his daily schedule.

"I will continue the walking every day," he said Wednesday. "I am going to add a pool regimen that I used in preparation for the hip surgery."

McNeill had his right hip replaced after the spring game in April.

"I will incorporate the pool along with the walking," said the ECU coach. "It will be three days a week of double exercise. I add that here starting Monday."

McNeill will eventually do some weight lifting to tone and strengthen his muscles. McNeill still has a healthy appetite but he's more disciplined with his caloric intake.

"The appetite is still there," he said. "I control it. My wife (Erlene) helps me control it. My administrative secretary (Ann Coyle) helps me control it. Everybody around me helps with what I'm able to eat, but then my desire is to eat proper portions. I'm so stubborn I will follow the doctor's orders and have followed the doctor's orders to the letter. I will not vary off on anyone's account. I have support around me. I have a stubborness about me to follow the doctor's orders to the letter. That's what I'll do and that's what I'm doing."

The clothes that Ruff wore when he was tipping the scales at close to 400 pounds are too big now.

"I've had to buy quite a bit of new clothes," he said. "I've dropped significantly and that's going to continue for a while. It'll level off probably in another year or so. I try to wait a little while in between clothes expeditions."

McNeill is on camera a lot and has to look good for various personal appearances.

"I have to stay groomed for those to represent East Carolina properly," he said. "I want to make sure I represent East Carolina in a first-class mode."

A visor is traditionally part of game day garb for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. McNeill said he will be wearing a cap when ECU plays the No. 12 Gamecocks on Sept. 3 in Charlotte.

"I never wore caps until I came here and it was part of the Nike deal," McNeill said. "I'd rather not wear a hat at all but I'll just wear a regular ball cap."

Competition heats up at RB

McNeill said running back Reggie Bullock has taken the competition at the position to another level. Bullock was the leading rusher in the junior college ranks last season at Arizona Western.

"He's doing a great job," McNeill said. "I like him a lot. ... (Quarterback) Dominique (Davis) and the kids think the world of him. He came in with a great work ethic and mentality. He didn't disappoint when we started camp. He has speed, the ability to catch the football, the ability to make you miss in space and also the ability to take it the distance. Michael Dobson has had a really good fall camp. I think the addition of Reggie has helped push Michael to another level. He's always had the physical tools.

"Torrance Hunt made the move from wide receiver to running back in the spring and he's also got the speed back there. Alex (Owah) has had some good days and some tough days but Alex is one of those guys who has the ability but he still has to catch up with those three guys as far as mentality. I like Alex as well so I feel good about that group.

"We have speed. We don't have the 220-pound back but we have that guy who can make you miss and take it the distance."

Lattimore impressive before injury

Defensive end John Lattimore, who transferred from Ventura (CA) Community College, was impressive before a season-ending injury.

"We were doing sprints," McNeill said. "He turned his ankle and will be out for the year. That was a tough blow to us. He'll have two years left. He has a redshirt year so we'll be able to keep him around for two years, It was a tough deal."

Lattimore had worked on his academics this summer to become eligible to play at ECU.

"He was disappointed," McNeill said. "So were we. ... While he was here — big time. He's a big-time guy."

Tight end Justin Jones is out indefinitely from a leg ailment sustained in Saturday's scrimmage. Defensive lineman Leroy Vick, a transfer from Georgia Military, was lost for the season in the spring.

"We should get Justin back fairly soon," McNeill said. "Everybody else is just nicks and bruises from the physicalness of fall camp. ... We've had enough injuries in my two years as head coach to last a long time. I'm hoping the blessing starts right now. I've already been blessed but the injury blessing is what I'm talking about.

"Guys are bigger now and things happen. You have to have some kind of contact. You can't wait until the first game to have contact. You've got to do it in practice and we control it. We've had two scrimmages to get some live tackling and live blocking in but everything else is controlled. It happens and it's a part of the game. You have to be ready to adjust. The kids have done a good job. (Head trainer) Mike Hanley and Jeff Connors (director of strength and conditioning) both do a good job of rehabbing our kids and getting them back in the proper amount of time.

"One of the things going into fall camp was to develop quality depth at all positions so we can rest people and if a ding does happen we can get a guy who can take their place and keep productivity."

Pirates getting into routine

Classes started Tuesday at ECU and the Pirates had a mock game week schedule this week.

"There's study hall now incorporated into it," McNeill said. "There are mentor meetings and there are academic responsibilities that our student-athletes have to be aware of. Our days have adjusted to what we call normal. ... Our practices are now in the afternoons. We were able o get some morning practices in during preseason camp, which gave us a lot of teaching time and developmental time. ... We'll start piece by piece on South Carolina and the coordinators may even incorporate Virginia Tech (Sept.10 in Greenville) this first week.

"As we get into game week, which begins Sunday, it'll be totally focused on South Carolina with preparation. The scout team, the developmental team, will get us ready for South Carolina."

The Pirates will leave Friday morning, Sept. 2, for Charlotte with a regular pregame schedule.

"It'll be normal activity," Ruff said. "Meetings, movie, those kinds of things, mental preparation."

Getting ready for the challenges

"We're ready to get started," McNeill said. "The season's here. The schedule is very challenging, We all know that. We're looking forward to the challenge. As a staff, I know we are and the players are as well. Now is just a process time. We talked about that all of fall camp.

"That was one of my objectives — to be able to get the team to go to another level mentally of enjoying the process, which is mental preparation and physical preparation. The process continues and we're looking forward to diving into it pretty good."

E-mail Al Myatt

Al Myatt Archives

08/25/2011 03:07 AM


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